Cervical mucus

Written by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D.

It's my job to be the wacknut who feels way more comfortable than you do with bodies, fluids, diverse sex acts, and non-normative gender expression.

It's my job to be Barbra Streisand in Meet the Fockers, regularly (though accidentally) embarrassing members of my social circle, while causing ripples of liberation and confidence and joy to spread among folks exposed to my oddities.

Fortunately for me, there really are a LOT of things I like about living bodies, so it's easy to be the wacknut.

Skin. I like skin. Salty with sweat, pasted with grass and dirt after mowing the lawn, rough with age or scars or callouses. Richly redolent of human body, there's a lot of science about smell and sex, but I'm not talking about how useful it is or how important it is or how fundamentally human it is; I'm just saying I fucking LIKE it. I like it because bodies are LIVES, and I like life.

I like ejaculate too, heck, I wrote a whole post about sperm and another one about penises. I like the boy side of reproduction, ya know? Ejaculate is this simple but magical cocktail (ahem) of sperm and nutrients for sperm, suspended in water. It can be messy and sticky and inconvenient and all the things that BODIES are. But look at what it does! It joins with a woman, the sperm pursue the egg, and, like the secret ingredient in master chef's recipe, it creates something brand, brand new: a life.

But, o best beloved, my favorite of all the fluids is cervical mucus. Such a hard worker. Because of cervical mucus, your vagina is a self-cleaning oven. The cap of mucus at the cervix constantly, gradually rolls down the undulating walls of the vagina, carrying away stray bacteria, sperm, viruses, and any other bits of flotsam that find their way into the vagina. You need never douche; just allow cervical mucus to do its job.

Most of the month, your cervical mucus forms a protective barrier at the cervix, blocking sperm and everything else from making its way too close to the precious uterus and adnexa. At ovulation, the mucus forms long channels that allow the passage of sperm, so that pregnancy can happen with risk of infection minimized.1 How. Brilliant. Is. That.

You can even use the changing texture of your mucus to help keep track of when you're fertile.

Its taste, one of the search terms I saw recently was "is cervical mucus ok to swallow" to which the answer is, as long as it isn't infected with anything that's orally transmissible, you betcha! Like semen, the flavor of cervical mucus changes depending on your diet. Fried food and red meat seem to make it a bit more bitter and savory, whereas fresh fruits and veggies make it sweeter. Healthier diet = sweeter juice. No surprise there, surely.

And its smell, for one thing its smell is a safety mechanism. Noticing a change in the smell of your fluids can give you early notice of yeast or other infection. And did you know the smell changes at ovulation, along with the texture? Its clean, healthy smell... well it's perfume and aphrodisiac, hallucinogenic and barbiturate. To your partner, it's coming home, but so, so much better than coming home. It's bread baking in the oven and the river that flows a few hundred feet from your homestead out there in the woods and the barn stack high with fresh hay, where you find lazy afternoons to lie together in the dusty sunlight. It's so much better than just coming home.

It's my job to love the sticky. It's a blessed job because it demands that I love my OWN sticky and my partner's. And it's blessed because love of the sticky is contagious. I can watch it spread through students over the course of a semester.

Some are immune; no matter how positive and playful and serene I am about it, some students will leave my class still hating the sticky. But most of them... most of them will leave my class loving themselves and their partners at least a little bit better than they did when they came in.

This is the post I said I'd write in honor of mucus. There's a lot more where this came from.

1. Han, L., Taub, R., & Jensen, J. T. (2017). Cervical mucus and contraception: what we know and what we don't. Contraception, 96(5), 310-321.

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